Date   

Re: A McIntosh Tuner Shoot-Out Report

pentiz <bb@...>
 

WHAT WE HEARD

Did you know which tuner you were listening to during the comparison?
If so, did the results confirm or contradict what you expected?

Brian


A McIntosh Tuner Shoot-Out Report

Tim Britt & Ann Weatherwax <timbritt@...>
 

THE CHALLENGE

How does a mint McIntosh MR74 compare to a mint McIntosh MX117 (same
tuner as the MR75)?

INTRODUCTION

It's generally known here in the group we are confirmed
"tuner-holics" and that much of our listening is done from
several really good college public radio stations in our area.

Many of you know we think highly of the McIntosh MR74 tuner and chose
it for our "reference" tuner here at casa Weatherwax/Britt
after holding a shoot-out a while back. Our previous reference was a
stock Pioneer Elite F-91 which we compared to a freshly
Modafferi-modded McIntosh MR78, a stock Sansui TU-919, a stock Sony
ST-S730ES, and the McIntosh MR74. And the Pioneer F-91 had replaced a
stock Kenwood KT-815. (Other tuners we've owned and have extensive
experience with are a Marantz 125 and a Yamaha CT-1010 and we've
had both an Accuphase T-100 and a T-101 in our system for several
weeks {years ago} but we've never actually owned an Accuphase.)
You can peruse our finding when we did this prior shoot-out at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Mcintosh_audio/message/254. We also have
a couple of Sony ST-J75 tuners which we'll write about later, but
suffice it to say if you can find one of these for under $30 and it
works, buy it immediately. You will not be disappointed.

Our list is not meant to be all-inclusive: There are many fine tuners
we will sadly never have a chance to listen to that are certainly
better than our MR74. Units that come to mind are Jim's reference
Kenwood, the Burmester, the Accuphase T-109V, perhaps an APS-modded
Sansui TU-919 or a TU-9900, or maybe one of the Rohde & Schwarz
tuners. But as they say down in Texas, "You dance with the one you
brung to the party" and for us, it's our MR74. And we have
noticed a "house sound," if you will in the McIntosh tuners
we have listened to that we find beguiling and appealing: We call it
the "Magical McIntosh Midrange" (MMM). If it is a
colouration, it is one we can happily live with, but whatever it is,
we have difficulty describing it other than to say the midrange on the
McIntosh tuners we have listened to sounds more "real" than
the midrange on any other tuner we've heard.

Since we liked the sound and the performance of the McIntosh MR74 so
much, several friends and acquaintances had been suggesting we should
also consider a McIntosh MR75 and/or a McIntosh MR80 as they thought
we might like one or both of these better than our MR74. We ruled out
the MR80 for several reasons: (1) It does not have AM, we get bad
storms in the winter here in the mountains and the local AM station
has the best weather reports; (2) The 4 FM presets have reliability
problems and eventually have to be re-built; and (3) We think the MR80
is butt-ugly (no offense to you MR80 owners reading this).

So we began casually looking for an MR75 (or the MX117 tuner/preamp
which uses the MR75 tuner). A while back, an MX117 showed up on eBay,
almost no one was bidding on it and we sniped it for much less than
they generally sell for. We had the seller ship it directly to
McIntosh in Binghamton, NY for a cleaning/alignment/refurbishing just
like we did when we got our MR74. So we felt this was a very fair
comparison of two different McIntosh tuners, which were not modded but
aligned and tweaked by the manufacturer's excellent service
department.

THE SMALL DETAILS

So, how did we conduct this shoot-out? What was in front of the tuner
and behind the tuner?

Well, in front of the tuner we use an APS-13 on a Channel Master rotor
feeding a Wineguard AP-8275 (their best 75-ohm antenna pre-amp). The
AP-8275 drives a 150-foot run of RG-6 cable that is normally
terminated into a single tuner. For testing purposes, we terminated
the antenna feed into a 1 in/2 out 75-ohm splitter so we could feed
both tuners simultaneously.

The selectivity setting of the MR74 stayed in the "wide"
setting throughout the testing, except where noted, while the MX117
has non-adjustable selectivity. Another significant design difference
between these tuners is that the MR74 has a 3-position noise filter
(Off/10 dB/20 dB) that "blends" the high frequencies to
reduce noise. The MX117 has a non-defeatable auto-blend circuit that
engages at low signal levels.

And bringing up the rear: Or what about the rest of the system?

For stereo speakers, we alternate between a pair of Polk
RT-2000p's and a pair of B&W DM3000's. Both are large floor
standing speakers: The Polk's were not a speaker we would have
considered until we read a phenomenally enthusiastic review of them in
"Audio" magazine by Anthony Cordesman, one of the few
reviewers we respect and generally agree with. In his review of the
Polk's Mr. Cordesman raved about their extraordinary dynamic
ability and very neutral midrange and high end. So we listened to a
pair, were suitably impressed and bought them on closeout when the
RT-2000i's replaced the RT-2000p's. The RT-2000p's use a
1" tweeter (aluminum deposited on a plastic & fabric dome) and a
6" midrange, with two 8" powered woofers.

The B&W DM3000's were purchased in England while on holiday and
were the last series of speakers B&W made before going to metal
tweeters. While we like the tweeters in the Polk's, we really
don't care for the metal tweeters used in any of the B&W's
much to the disappointment of our local B&W dealer. These speakers use
a 1" fabric dome tweeter and two 8" Kevlar drivers in a
cascaded array (one goes from about 150 Hz down and the other goes
from 150 Hz up to 3000 Hz), and a 10" passive ABR. The enclosure
is bit unusual in that it is a pentagon so as to help break up
standing waves. We would call the Polk's a little more neutral
while we'd call the B&W's a little bit "warmer" and
more forgiving of poor recordings.

When we're doing the home theater thing, we use a Polk CS-400 for
the center channel with the RT-2000p's while we use a B&W HTM
center channel with the DM3000's. The rears never change, a pair
of Polk LS F/X speakers (always in the bi-pole mode) fed from an M&K
Goliath II passive subwoofer. And there is a Sunfire True Sub for the
front channel subwoofer (and the .1 feed from 5.1 material).

Electronics? Front channel/stereo amp is a McIntosh MC2205. Center
channel amp, when used, is a McIntosh MC2125 run in the mono mode.
Rear channel amp, when used is another McIntosh MC2205. Now for the
complicated part: For stereo listening, we alternate between a
McIntosh C28 pre-amp and a Marantz 3800 pre-amp. We have not yet tried
the pre-amp of the MX117. We like tone controls as we also listen to
78's, and besides, not all FM broadcasts, or recordings are
perfect.

For A/V use, we'd love to have a McIntosh MX134 (or the current
MX135) but we don't have the $6000 these cost new. We brought
home an Onkyo TS-DX696 A/V receiver to try as a preamp, compared it to
an MX134 we were trying out, and while we heard a slight difference,
we didn't hear $5500 worth of difference. The MX134 went back to
the dealer and we welcomed the TS-DX696 into our system, used solely
as a pre-amp. No disrespect to McIntosh, but the Onkyo TS-DX696's
pre-amp is "voiced" amazingly close to the MX134 and we're
not sure we could really tell them apart in a true blind listening
test.

Sources? Well, is there anything else to listen to other than a good
tuner? Seriously, we are also "vinyl-holics" with over 20,000
albums in our basement. Our primary turntable is a J.A. Michell
GyroDec/Rega RB-300/Shure V-15vMR (not the xMR – we think the vMR
is better sounding). For 78's, we use a FONS CQ-30/SME 3009
Improved/Shure V-15III with the 1 mil conical stylus Shure used to
make. [NOTE: If anyone has an extra one, e-mail us and we'll buy
it since it has long been discontinued by Shure]. We also have a Sony
PS-X7 direct drive turntable with the carbon fibre arm Sony made and a
Shure VST-III (almost identical to the V-15vMR). The Sony was (and
is) a Linn killer and will trounce most other good belt drive
turntables, but it never got reviewed and Sony discontinued it after
18 months.

For SeeDee, we use a Sony DVP-NS500V SACD/DVD/CD player run into an
Adcom GDA-700 DAC (for better sound and HDCD decoding). For tape, we
use both a Sony ES cassette deck, and for open reel, a Teac A-4010GSL
run into a Teac AN-180 Dolby unit. But no Mini disc, no DAT, no MP3
player (We have never downloaded anything – The MP3's
we've listened too REALLY SUCK), and no iPod. Oh, and we get
Sirius service free through our DISH network receiver, but we find we
can't listen for long periods of time to Sirius – It's too
unsettling.

And we saved he most important component for last: The listening
room. Our den is 12' x 24' with an 8 1/2' acoustical tile
ceiling. The floor is pegged oak and there is a full basement
underneath, however, instead of the usual 2 x 10's under the
floor, the guy who built the house used STEEL BEAMS. The builder was
the owner of the town's hardware store and he really went all out
when he built this house in 1954. Besides using steel beams, he
heavily insulated the house's walls and attic, reinforced the
roof for the winter snow loads, and even attached storm doors and
windows, all back in 1954. And because the local bank was frequently
robbed back in the 1950's (or so we're told), he put a
10' x 12' walk-in safe in the basement with a humongous
Mosler door to store his money and his gun collection. And in the den,
he paneled the walls with wormy chestnut 1" planks. We don't
know if it's the wormy chestnut or what, but this room is the
absolute best sounding listening room we have ever had.

Our listening biases are first and foremost, the midrange must be
absolutely natural and uncoloured – We suppose this is our
"British Bias." Next, the music must sound good at low levels
as well as at high levels. Then we look for a 3-D sense of spatiality
and depth as well as image height – This is generally best heard
with full orchestral music and/or opera. Next, the system must be as
comfortable reproducing macro-dynamics in the music as well as the
all-important micro-dynamics. Finally, we are more interested in the
music sounding "real" as if it is actually being played in
our room rather than the sound we hear being a 100% accurate
reproduction of the source: Would you rather eat real steak or a 100%
accurate, protein-enhanced soy reproduction of steak? This is
"audiophile anathema" and we suppose this means we like a
minimal amount of colouration in the sound, but we just cannot specify
what this colouration is nor can we define it.

This equipment and listening preference discussion may be a bit long,
but we wanted to give you a sense of our listening tastes and how we
evaluate what we hear when we compare tuners.


SOURCE MATERIAL

We live in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains where the NC/TN/VA
borders intersect, at a 3,500' elevation, mountains surround us,
and the stations we most often listen to are:

Freq: Call Sign: City/State: Distance: Format:

88.5 WFDD Winston-Salem, NC 74 Miles Public Radio

88.7 WNCW Spindale, NC 63 Miles Public Radio

89.5 WETS Johnson City, TN 36 Miles Public Radio

89.9 WDAV Davidson, NC 74 Miles Classical

90.3 WFHE Hickory, NC 37 Miles Public Radio

90.7 WFAE Charlotte, NC 90 Miles Public Radio

91.9 WVTF Marion, VA 28 Miles Public Radio

99.7 WRFX Charlotte, NC 88 Miles Clear Channel Rock

Notes: 89.5, WETS is the public radio station at East Tennessee State
University and they frequently broadcast live music from their studio.
Most of these broadcasts are either bluegrass or another variant of
Celtic music. The sound quality, is of course, wonderful.

WRFX is a ClearChannel station that is the flagship station of
"The John Boy and Billy Show" for those of us born with a
little red on the back of our necks. The real reason it's here
is: (a) The John Boy and Billy Show can be hilariously funny at times;
and more importantly (b) their tower is 88 miles from our antenna and
it is a real tuner test to pull this one in with a quiet signal. Only
several have accomplished this feat in our location.

WHAT WE HEARD

With the MR74 in place, we heard a slightly narrower soundstage than
with the MX117. However, without access to the original broadcast
source material, it is impossible to say if this is more or less
accurate. We also noted slightly more front-to-back depth, slightly
higher image height (particularly on classical orchestral music and
opera) with the MR74. Another thing that surprised us was that the
highs were much more extended – This was very audible on brushes
hitting cymbals, for example.

In the all-important midrange, we noted strings sounded better, like
the instruments were actually in the room with us. The differences
were slight, but we'd say all strings sounded like they had more
rosin on them. And both high-level and low-level dynamics were
slightly better.

With the MX117 we experienced and heard a slightly wider soundstage
compared to the MR74, but slightly less front-to-back depth and
slightly lower image height on classical orchestral music and opera.
Again, without access to the original broadcast material it's
impossible to say if this is more or less accurate. We were surprised
the highs were not as extended as they are on the MR74: The MX117 is a
much newer design that dropped use of the IF RIMO filters used in the
MR77, the MR78, and the MR74 - The MX117 uses pizeo-electric filters
in it's IF section and the selectivity is fixed unlike the
wide/narrow selectivity available on the MR74.

We did note the MX117 was a slightly hotter, slightly more sensitive
tuner than the MR74. This was very audible on the 99.7 ClearChannel
rock station: With our antenna pointed towards Charlotte we got a very
good listenable signal while the MR74 was not as quiet on this station
and there was a bit of noise in the signal. However, we found we could
clean up 99.7's signal on the MR74 when we switched its
selectivity to "narrow" and engaged its noise filter. When we
did this, 99.7 on the MR74 was just about as quiet as it was on the
MX117, but the sound was a bit duller – We think it was duller
because of the blending and possible roll-off of the highs by the
MR74's noise filter in the 20 dB setting.

We found both tuners to be equally quiet with no audible background
noise on the stations we listened to with the only difference the one
cited previously when listening to 99.7.

FINAL NOTES

Adjacent and alternate channel selectivity specifications of the MR75
are higher than the "wide" setting specifications for the
MR74, so perhaps this accounted for the slightly better high frequency
response and slightly better dynamics we heard with the MR74.

So how do these two tuners compare to the legendary McIntosh MR78?
Well, we no longer have the Modafferi-modded MR78 we previously
listened to (and borrowed) when we selected our MR74, but we can
distinctly recall more differences between the MR74 and the
Modaferri-modded MR78 than we heard between the MR74 and the MX117.

To sum up, listening on the MR74 sounded just a bit more
"real" than listening on the MX117. All of these differences
were slight – We could easily live with the MX117 if we didn't
have an MR74 to compare it to. They are both superb tuners and
there's just something about that McIntosh "look" of
their older tuners that's extremely compelling. But in the end, we
thought the MR74 just sounded a bit more "real" and
"natural" when compared to the MX117. That "Magical
McIntosh Midrange" was just a bit better on the MR74.


Copyright 2004 by Tim Britt and Ann Weatherwax. Not one stinkin'
word of this missive may be reproduced without our written permission.
If you violate this copyright accord, we will hunt you down, pluck out
your eyeballs and feed them to British homing pigeons on steroids
(they'll always be able to find you for follow-up snacks!). If
you use this copy or make reference to this copy or electronicaly link
to it via the Internet in an eBay or Audiogon listing you hereby agree
to award us 100% of the proceeds from your sale, you plagiarist!


Re: leak troughline - Links

Thomas Krause
 

...

For more info consider hjleak@yahoogroups.com and
www.artsandmedia.com in the audio section. In case anyone is
pondering the common Troughline question, yes,the sensitivity of
these tuners is terrible.

Charlie
BTW:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FMtuners/links/Tube_Tuner_Sites_00100620
7112/

Best,
Thomas


Re: Kenwood L 01T De Emphasis

Thomas Krause
 

--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, "bigreceiver2002" <gearhead@e...>
wrote:

I own a Kenwood L 01 T and thought about selling it. However,it is
a European Version with 50us De Emphasis. Is there a way to
alter/modify the De Emphasis internally to 75us? Maybe a stupid
question, but I am no tech. Thanks in advance !
There is. And it is NOT a stupid question at all ;-)

I hold a diagram and let you know what to do. I guess you need a
deemphasis-TC of 75µs?

Please send me a private mail as an reminder and as well to specify
your location.

Best regards,
Thomas


Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

kevin john <srnity@...>
 

This topic is the most interesting of all.IMO.I live as the gentleman in
Oregon,in the boonies.Sticks.Possibly like the gentleman in Oregon I have an
addictive personality.Hence the house full of stereos.My point?
I have an outdoor antenna for my FM and my TV.I refuse to pay $500 to $600
a year for cable TV.I know that I would just sit in front of that thing and
flip,and flip.Until I'd end up on some crap.I get my local station and
PBS.Free.
I own a large vinyl and CD collection,not to mention casettes.FM is so
easy and as one other gentleman pointed out,I get to hear lots of new
stuff.Right now I'm listening to a Bluegress and folk show that comes on
every sunday morning on a local Rock station.The have a jazz show,a world
beat show and a very well rounded formate.I listen to a collage station and
with the outdoor antenna I get a station out of Burlington that plays the
hard stuff.I listen to my radios most of the time,when I listen and its
free,free.It would be a shame to loose it.However I think you may be
right.In my life time it my pass a free choice.Maybe.I hope not Maybe there
are enough of us out there who will hold fast and not sign up.
I too buy new artists that I hear on the radio.You would think that that
fact might keep free radio alive.Then again the internet has changed so
much.I no longer go to a music store,rarely.I buy it all online.The nearest
music store is 25 minutes away.The next nearest is 50 minutes.I'm powerless
to stop change,and it looks as though thats the way.Free TV and radio ?? May
be a thing of the past.
Any sugjestions on a nice Sony tuner from the 70s,around $100 or so.

----- Original Message -----
From: "newaag" <bob@fmtunerinfo.com>
To: <FMtuners@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2004 11:24 PM
Subject: [FMtuners] Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing




--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, "wb8nhv" <jeffhs@a...> wrote:
.I see a day coming when most
stereo systems, including bookshelf units and car systems, will be
equipped not with AM/FM broadcast tuners, but with satellite
receivers.
While I respect your opinion, I think you are wrong on that one. Cable
TV never obsoleted free TV. People will stil want local news and
weather on the radio.
-bob







Yahoo! Groups Links







Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

Radioman390@...
 

In a message dated 12/12/04 7:00:14 AM Eastern Standard Time, srnity@... writes:
Any sugjestions on a nice Sony tuner from the 70s,around $100 or so.


Look for 5130 on EBay. Built like a tank.


Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

newaag
 

--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, "wb8nhv" <jeffhs@a...> wrote:
.I see a day coming when most
stereo systems, including bookshelf units and car systems, will be
equipped not with AM/FM broadcast tuners, but with satellite
receivers.
While I respect your opinion, I think you are wrong on that one. Cable
TV never obsoleted free TV. People will stil want local news and
weather on the radio.
-bob


Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

Tim Britt & Ann Weatherwax <timbritt@...>
 

Mitsumi's web page calls this "High Grade Class," not us.

We only cited this one because so many A/V receivers and inexpensive
tuners use Mitsumi modules these days and the Mitsumi products are
light years below the performance of a really good vintage tuner,
IOHO.

--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, "pentiz" <bb@n...> wrote:
[snip]

This device is High Grade Class only with respect to an oatmeal-box
crystal set.

Brian


The Magic of FM [Was: Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing]

Tim Britt & Ann Weatherwax <timbritt@...>
 

Brian,

You have accurately summarized why there is magic in listening to FM
and why we ourselves like FM so much.

We have discovered many new artists and groups after hearing them
on a public radio station, and we will seek out and purchase their
vinyl and/or CD's.

For those group members who can pick up a college public radio
station, magic can really happen when the station has guest artists in
their studio and they do a live broadcast of the artist from the
station.

Thank you.

--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, "pentiz" <bb@n...> wrote:

When you only have 2 or 3 stations per market worth listening
too, one is better off buying a few CDs.

Paul, I regularly listen to five FM stations (one NPR, two jazz,
two classical), and I no longer buy CDs. CDs sound significantly
better to me, primarily because of their much greater dynamic
range, but what I find irreplaceable about radio is the exposure to
music I would never have the sense to buy on my own. Each week I
come across artists, composers, or pieces that I've never heard
before but really enjoy. When I turn on the radio there's always the
chance that something unexpected will dazzle me. For me listening
to the radio is a lot more fun and interesting than just playing
the music I already know.

Brian


Re: FM Antenna Mounting Question

statictree6
 

-Thanks Milton. No problem here. I live on the Oregon Coast, out in
the boonies. I can turn it down to 5 watts, and still hit the
repeaters. I will make sure that I do not have my tuner turned on if
I do transmit. My tuners are; TU-717, TU9900, and Onkyo 9090II.-- In
FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, "Milton Noguchi" <m2noguchi@y...> wrote:

It's best not to transmit with your FM Tuner turned on as you
could
blow out the Front-End with that much power so close-by. In fact,
I
would disconnect the FM Tuner completely from it's antenna
whenever
you do decide to use your 2-Meter rig.

Don't you have a HT (Handy Talkie)? Just use it on Low Power to
hit
the Repeater. Remember, to minimize interference, hams promised
to
use the minimum RF power needed to communicate.

MN

--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, "statictree6" <pureh2o@c...>
wrote:

Hi all. I purchased a Rat Shack 7 element outside beam FM
antenna.
I
have a 12 foot long, steel antenna mast, on top of my garage. On
top
of that mast, I have a Diamond 2 meter omni antenna mounted. The
mast is grounded with a heavy copper conductor going to ground.
Would I have a problem of signal loss by mounting my FM antenna
about 6 feet below the 2 meter antenna, on the same mast? I
realize
that I may get harmonics if I transmit with my tuner on. My ham
radio puts out about 100 watts. However, I can turn the power
down,
and still hit the repeaters. I am just trying to save on space,
and
take advantage of the good grounding already on the steel mast.
Thank you.


Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

wb8nhv <jeffhs@...>
 

--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, "Stan Sexton" <stanathomesell@c...>
wrote:
Keep in mind that 1. Most of the population have no FM antennas (nor
TV for that matter) and in many newer subdivisions, antennas are not
allowed or at least discouraged. 2.Cable systems rarely pass through
FM signals or Cable systems do not have FM antennas at the head end
so 3. The average consumer is content to listen to local stations with
either an antenna rod or using the AC line as an antenna. 4. FM does
not have the popularity it did years ago, especially with the
audiophile community, which looks at the FM band as lacking in quality
content and is suspect of the audio quality as compression and boost
in the lower frequencies (boombox) is so prevalent.
That leaves us freaks who like to listen to the wierd or distant
stations. To most people, FM is a casual activity and the market for
"super tuners" is quite small. There are just two many other
diversions.
I bet more FM is listened to in vehicles than in homes, the opposite
of 30 years ago.
Talk radio saved AM. What will save FM when everyone buys Sirius to
listen to Howard Stern? Howard Stern keeps many FM stations in the
black now.
Stan in San Diego

Stan,

I agree with you on every count. I live in an apartment building,
so cannot have an outside FM or TV antenna. I have cable TV and use a
small external antenna for stereo FM; the latter works very well with
my modest stereo installation, despite the fact that I live in a small
town some 45 miles from most Cleveland FM stations. My town is
actually halfway between Cleveland and another city called Ashtabula,
near Lake Erie; I get stations in stereo (except for one small one at
102.5) from both cities very well. The programming isn't that great
(most if not all the FM stations I get are either rock, hard rock, rap
or country), but I guess that's FM in a nutshell in just about every
part of the United States these days.

There is a classical station about 50 miles from here on 104.9, but I
don't hear it on most of my radios (except an old Zenith AM/FM and a
Sony AM/FM stereo portable, both with switchable AFC) because of a
strong station just 0.2 MHz down the dial (at 104.7) which drowns it
out.

My town's cable system (Comcast) does not have FM stereo service
anymore, if it ever did. However, the system does offer 30+ channels
of CD-quality, commercial-free digital music. I connected the audio
outputs of my cable box to the aux inputs of my stereo shortly after I
got digital cable last year, and am very, very pleased with the
results. It beats the repetitious stuff on local FM by a country mile;
I often wonder why I didn't get digital cable sooner than I did. One
channel of the digital music service has easy listening, which most
broadcast FM stations don't bother with anymore (haven't, really, for
years; easy listening programming is ordinarily what most FM stations,
except a few classical stations such as WGBH-FM in Boston, WFMT in
Chicago, et al. played in the '50s and '60s when FM radio was new and
hit music--top 40, rock, etc.--was still on AM).

I see many posts to this group regarding DXing the FM broadcast
band. Why bother? If you live in a major city of any size, you
probably hear more FM stations than you can shake a stick at, so what
do you need with out-of-town stations that copy your locals'
programming? Most cities' FM stations all have the same basic formats
anyhow, so what difference does it make if you live, say, in Miami,
but listen to distant FM from Orlando, Tampa or somewhere out of the
state? Every type of music programming you can get on stations in one
city is played on the stations in most other towns. The only advantage
I can see to FM DXing is being able to hear commercials, station ID
jingles, etc. from other cities (or states, if you live near the
borders of one or more states). The music and even the DJ chatter are
the same almost everywhere (especially these days, with
satellite-imported programs).

I am an amateur (ham) radio operator and am familiar with the
concept of hobby DXing on AM radio bands, 80, 40, 15 meters, et al.
(including standard AM broadcast, just above which is the hams'
160-meter band) which are meant to carry signals coast-to-coast,
especially at night, but cannot see the sense in DXing on FM which is
normally line-of-sight range. I guess, since it takes certain
propagation conditions to carry FM signals hundreds of miles, there is
a certain thrill in receiving, say, an FM broadcast station from
Chicago when the listener is, again by way of example, in Michigan;
however, in cities with many local FMs, that is all DXing is--a
momentary thrill. The only real value I can see in DXing on FM is the
case in which a person lives in an area with few or no local FM
stations. In these cases, one or two stations 50+ miles away might be
the only FM reception the person might get. There are areas of this
country, especially out west and in mountainous areas, which fall into
this category; for them and their residents, there is still a market
for "super-tuners" and large FM antennas, as to these folks, stations
50+ miles away may be the closest they get to having local FM.

Satellite and Internet radio, not to mention digital music channels
on cable, have in many cases replaced FM radio listening at fixed
locations (homes, businesses, etc.). I see a day coming when most
stereo systems, including bookshelf units and car systems, will be
equipped not with AM/FM broadcast tuners, but with satellite
receivers. The days of standard FM broadcasting may well be numbered.
Only time will tell for sure.


Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

pentiz <bb@...>
 

When you only have 2 or 3 stations
per market worth listening too, one is better off buying a few CDs.

Paul, I regularly listen to five FM stations (one NPR, two jazz, two
classical), and I no longer buy CDs. CDs sound significantly better
to me, primarily because of their much greater dynamic range, but
what I find irreplaceable about radio is the exposure to music I
would never have the sense to buy on my own. Each week I come across
artists, composers, or pieces that I've never heard before but really
enjoy. When I turn on the radio there's always the chance that
something unexpected will dazzle me. For me listening to the radio is
a lot more fun and interesting than just playing the music I already
know.

Brian


Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

pentiz <bb@...>
 

The capabilities of this chip are pretty amazing:

I didn't check out your references, Demian, due to my slow dial-up
service. Perhaps one referred to the Motorola Symphony chip set, by
far the most impressive FM radio system I've ever come across. Full
DSP IF plus baseband processor, implementing everything imaginable,
and a couple more items I hadn't thought of. However, I believe
Motorola recently sold off all of its IC businesses, and I don't know
whether the chipset found a new home. It's been a couple years since
I found out about the chipset and I haven't seen any subsequent
announcements or its appearance in products. Did it die?

Brian


Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

demianm_1 <demianm@...>
 

Brian:
Your right, its pretty primitive. However there are some AM/FM
modules that are more sophisticated than any of the tuners of the
80's and 90's.
The capabilities of this chip are pretty amazing:
http://www.st.com/stonline/books/pdf/docs/8334.pdf it only supports
three IF stages internally but it can do more than any traditional
tuner I have seen including adjacent channel detection, multipath
detection and keyed AGC. And its available as part of a multi-chip
module. Philips also has a similar module.
And this: http://www.microtune.com/products/1383_Series.html has
variable IF bandwidth.

Judging from a google search of Tuner Module The Yamaha T-85 has
basically been reduced to a few chipsets from what I've seen with
additional capability for the car market.

I will explore these more.
-Demian


--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, "pentiz" <bb@n...> wrote:

Check out http://tinyurl.com/6e5ra for a Mitsumi "Super Compact,
FM
Electronic Tuner For High Grade Class Home Stereo." This is a
complete
FM tuner on a small module. Add a power supply, a tuning
mechanism,
and a tuning display, drop it in a box, add some output jacks
and a
few other odds and ends and you've got yourself an FM tuner.

It is the front-end only. It is deaf. Its maximum noise figure
spec
is 10 dB worse than it should be. That's like adding several
hundred
feet to the length your antenna feedline. The +/-500-kHz drift
spec
makes the device unusable except at constant temperature, but I'll
be
charitable and assume that some form of closed-loop control is
provided for.

This device is High Grade Class only with respect to an oatmeal-
box
crystal set.

Brian


Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

pentiz <bb@...>
 

Check out http://tinyurl.com/6e5ra for a Mitsumi "Super Compact, FM
Electronic Tuner For High Grade Class Home Stereo." This is a
complete
FM tuner on a small module. Add a power supply, a tuning mechanism,
and a tuning display, drop it in a box, add some output jacks and a
few other odds and ends and you've got yourself an FM tuner.

It is the front-end only. It is deaf. Its maximum noise figure spec
is 10 dB worse than it should be. That's like adding several hundred
feet to the length your antenna feedline. The +/-500-kHz drift spec
makes the device unusable except at constant temperature, but I'll be
charitable and assume that some form of closed-loop control is
provided for.

This device is High Grade Class only with respect to an oatmeal-box
crystal set.

Brian


Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

Stan Sexton <stanathomesell@...>
 

Keep in mind that 1. Most of the population have no FM antennas (nor TV for that matter) and in many newer subdivisions, antennas are not allowed or at least discouraged. 2.Cable systems rarely pass through FM signals or Cable systems do not have FM antennas at the head end  so 3. The average consumer is content to listen to local stations with either an antenna rod or using the AC line as an antenna. 4. FM does not have the popularity it did years ago, especially with the audiophile community, which looks at the FM band as lacking in quality content and is suspect of the audio quality as compression and boost in the lower frequencies (boombox) is so prevalent.
That leaves us freaks who like to listen to the wierd or distant stations. To most people, FM is a casual activity and the market for "super tuners" is quite small. There are just two many other diversions.
I bet more FM is listened to in vehicles than in homes, the opposite of 30 years ago.
Talk radio saved AM. What will save FM when everyone buys Sirius to listen to Howard Stern? Howard Stern keeps many FM stations in the black now.
Stan in San Diego


Request for advice and diagram for Sansui TU-X711 or TU-X701.

ramat51 <moshe.cohen@...>
 

Dear member,
I lately bought a Sansui TU-X711 and I can receive properly only
strong signal stations and mostly in "DX" position.
I think that the failure is with the AGC (Automatic Gain Control)
that probably lowered the entire gain of the tuner.

I would appreciate if somebody sends me (or post in the site):
(1) The electronics diagram of the Sansui TU-X711 or the TU-X701 (I
think they have a similar circuit)
(2)An advice on solving such a failure.

Best Regards,
Moshe Cohen


Re: Economics of tuner manufacturing

Tim Britt & Ann Weatherwax <timbritt@...>
 

A really thought-provoking post that will likely generate many
comments. Here's what we think (comments below):

--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, Radioman390@c... wrote:
In looking at TIC and EBay FM Tuners FA, seeing that there have
literally been thousands of different tuner models in all price
groups over the years, I'm beginning to wonder about the financial
incentives of manufacturing tuners for public consumption.

Now I'm taling about tuner separates (not integrated with an amp or
whatever).

In looking around my friends' homes, I don't see a lot of component
audio systems. Sure little integrated JVC, Sanyo, etc. systems that
play CDs, cassettes and have AM/FM capability. But in terms of
component systems, I'd guess that in my circle of acquaintances,
only one of 20 homes has components. But I live in an area of
upscale homes, so if you take in the economically poorer areas,
and cultural differences (no interest in audio, just TV or booze),
the number is probably one in 100 (e.g. 1%)

Now the number crunching:
US population 300 Million give or take
Average household size: 4
Equals 75 million households
For a 2000 Census data summary click on
http://tinyurl.com/649pz

US population is now estimated to be close to the 300 million number.
In 2000 the number of housing units was 115,904,641, so now the number
could be closer to 120,000,000. In 2000 the average household size was
2.59 and it's not unrealistic to think it's 2.50 today due to people
delaying families and having fewer kids.

As for income, if you drill down into the data at the US Census site
noted above, the median household income in 2000 was $41,994 while the
median income for the "married/family" classification was $57,345.

If 1% have audio components, that's a potential market of less than
a million audiophiles. But hey, 90% probably bought one system a
decade ago and are "out of the market" for now.
1% may be a little low even if we define audio components as separate
components (tuner/pre-amp/power amp). VCR penetration is over 90% of
all households and the last figures we saw suggested over 70% of all
households owned a DVD player. If we define audio components to
include A/V receivers and HTIB's (home theater in a box systems) and
so-called "lifestyle" systems (like the Bose and others), the
penetration may actually be closer to 40% to 50% of all households.
It's not likely that people with an HTIB or a "lifestyle" system would
add a separate tuner, but it's not inconceivable someone with a stereo
or an A/V receiver would choose to add a separate tuner for better FM
reception.

If we were the marketing consultants for a company looking to market
FM tuners, we'd estimate the potential market for FM tuners to be say,
5% of the 120 million housing units, or 6 million. If only 5% upgrade
annually, that'a a potential market of at least 300,000 tuner
purchases each year. Our gut, however, tells us the likely number of
annual tuner purchases in the US is way less than the 100,000 you
note, and we think this probably includes both new and used tuner
purchases.

Our best guess is that there are no more than 300 transactions weekly
for analog tuners in the entire US, including both new and used
transactions. This is a pitifully small number of 15,600 tuner
transactions a year. Even if we are generous and say 500 analog tuners
change hands weekly, this is only 26,000 tuner transactions a year.
Please note we are not including any of the DAB tuners, like XM and
Sirius in our figures. We should be grateful companies like Magnum and
others continue to offer products in a market this small.

So if we assume upgrades of 10% a year, that means that the total
market is about 100,000 tuners a year.
But there are dozens of manufacturers who make from 200 units a
year (Sequera?) to those that make 10,000 or more (Pioneer, etc) of
a particular model, but they'd have multiple models at various
price points.

How can the investment in R&D, marketing etc. be justified over
such a small base?
R&D: What company is doing any? We've read in this group Magnum tuners
were designed by contract engineers. Maybe Sequerra, but are the new
units they say they are introducing new designs or tweaks of previous
designs?

Marketing: For the multi-product manufacturers like McIntosh, Denon,
Sony, etc., these costs are spread across the product line. Most cost
accounting models assign the most marketing expenses to the best
selling items. Tuners are not a big selling item therefore the
marketing costs assigned to tuners would be minimal. OTOH, the
marketing costs assigned to Magnum's tuners would be a substantial
portion of their entire marketing expenses.

True, the models remain active for several years, with tinkering of
features to satisfy our craving for New New New.

To add info to the mix: When I had a stereo store, my cost for
Pioneer and Kenwood was 60 to 70% of list price, for other brands
it was 75% of list. That is, a $100 retail item cost me from $60 to
$75.
When we worked at a store in the 1970's, our cost for Kenwood,
Pioneer, and many other Japanese brands was 55% of list. This could
drop to as low as 50% when co-op dollars were factored in. The lowest
margin brands like Mark Levinson and Accuphase cost about 65% to 68%
of list price.


So let's say Pioneer has a $250 LIST PRICE tuner; the dealer pays
them $150 for it.
Of course they have to ship it from wherever, warehouse it,
advertise it, add administrative costs, etc, so that they pay the
factory $90 to $100 (I'm guessing here).
The reps that came into our store always stated the manufacturer's
actual parts cost was generally 1/6 to 1/10 of the retail store's
wholesale cost, and the manufacturer's other expenses (R&D, employee
salaries, marketing, etc.) accounted for the remainder of their cost.


How can the factory build it for $90 including parts, labor,
overhead, development, design etc etc etc? If they only make 5000
pieces, or for some less polular models, a thousand or less?
They use off-the-shelf parts and modules for many parts of the tuner.
Check out http://tinyurl.com/6e5ra for a Mitsumi "Super Compact, FM
Electronic Tuner For High Grade Class Home Stereo." This is a complete
FM tuner on a small module. Add a power supply, a tuning mechanism,
and a tuning display, drop it in a box, add some output jacks and a
few other odds and ends and you've got yourself an FM tuner.


My ex-wives both expressed opinions that I was wrong about most
things. Is that true here?


Re: Modern Tuners - compilation

Paul Baptista <paul.baptista@...>
 

http://de.groups.yahoo.com/group/highend_radio/links
I forgot two other brands
Magnum Dynalab 6 models
Jolida 1 model

Thanks
Paul


Re: Modern Tuners - compilation

Paul Baptista <paul.baptista@...>
 

http://de.groups.yahoo.com/group/highend_radio/links
Hey Thomas,

you might want to add
Burmester (Germany)
Sugden (UK)
I think they each have 2 models

Nice list
Paul